The Everton manager David Moyes is hoping his team's impressive draw against Manchester United will be the catalyst needed to propel them up the Premier League table. Moyes saw his side threaten a shock comeback victory at Goodison Park in the 1-1 draw on Saturday, after restricting an initially dominant United to just a 1-0 lead in the first half.
The result helped lift some of the gloom which had descended on Everton this season. And Moyes is confident the point gained against the Premier League and European champions can inspire his team for tonight's match with Bolton.
"I thought it was a good performance, I thought that after the game and I still feel that today," he said. "We played very well in the second half and that gives us something to build on. We have played some good football in recent weeks, but not picked up the points, so what we need to do is keep playing well but over the 90 minutes. The players are all very determined and they showed that in the second half [against United], we have players coming into form and into better fitness as well."
Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini headed the equaliser on Saturday, and although he has yet to fully win over the Everton fans following his £15m switch from Standard Liège, Moyes believes the 20-year-old is settling nicely into the pace and style of the Premier League. "I think he's bedding in and he is doing quite well," Moyes said. "Before I signed him I said he might need 10 games before he is appreciated because of his gait and his style is maybe a bit different, but he has done well, scored a couple of goals for us as well and I do believe he is settling in. I think he has a lot of Tim Cahill's traits. He is effective in both boxes and comfortable on the ball and I think in the future we will see that we have signed a player with very good potential."
The reference to Cahill was timely as the Australian midfielder will return to the Everton line-up tomorrow, having served the three-match suspension which was his punishment for being dismissed in the Merseyside derby defeat a month ago. The Everton manager admits his squad will be buoyed by Cahill's return but he is still smarting about referee Mike Riley's decision to dismiss him in the 2-0 home loss.
Moyes explained: "It is a big boost for us and he is really important. I don't think he should have been sent off in the first place. And certainly after some of the challenges we saw on Saturday, I would still say that Tim Cahill's was not a red card. It is great to have him back because he scores important goals at good times."
Everton are just one point better off than 15th-placed Bolton. Gary Megson's side have earned a reputation for being overly physical but Moyes has told his players not to be concerned by that.
Moyes said: "There is never an easy game in the Premier League and certainly never one at Bolton whether I've been there as manager of Preston or Everton. It is always a hard game and you know what you will get.
"You will always get a physical encounter at Bolton but it has always been a good one as well. Football can be played in many different ways, it doesn't need to just be played in just one way and that's part of the job, you have to deal with what they throw at you."
For his part Megson would rather disillusioned fans aimed their anger at him and not his players. Megson was verbally abused by a section of the travelling support during Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.
That prompted captain Kevin Nolan to try to defend his manager by saying that he and his team-mates also deserved to feel a vitriolic backlash from the fans. Megson – for whom abuse from his own supporters is not new – does not agree with the boyhood Liverpool fan, who will lead Bolton against Everton at the Reebok Stadium tonight.
Megson – whose struggling side have taken just eight points from their opening nine games – said: "I read what Kevin Nolan said in the press about the fans getting off my back and the players also being culpable. I really appreciate what Kevin said but I don't agree with it.
"I don't want the fans to start having a go at the players because a lot of them won't have had it before. But I'm used to it because I've had it from day one and if the fans want to shout and abuse me that's fine, although it's not particularly nice.
"You get to a certain age and a certain level of experience whereby it [the abuse] becomes water of a duck's back. What would be harder to deal with is if the supporters actually turned on the players. But the only way to stop the negativity is by putting in some better performances."